Put a Duck on It: Or, 4 Things I Learned From Shooting Headshots

I had the chance to shoot the talented and lovely Lois Dawson‘s headshots last week in Vancouver. I had a blast, but also tried a few new things which paid off. Here goes:

1. Confidence is 90% of the game:

Anyone who looks confident will be infinitely more photogenic than someone terrified, hesitant, or lost. With headshots, you often want to appear as a confident and capable professional. However, being confident and capable on the job doesn’t always mean you’re confident and capable in front of the lens. And if you aren’t comfortable in front of the camera, fake it until you make it.

I love this photo of Lois. Look, she’s so confident! How does she do it? Well. If you look at the uncropped shot… There’s a duck on her head! 

That’s Cue, the Stage Manager Duck. It’s hard to overthink about modeling or judge yourself too harshly when you’ve got a duck on your head. Who knew a duck could be the secret to success?!


2. Dress for the job you want:

There’s a lot of ways to subtly add textures of the job in the headshot. Maybe I’m a placemaking nerd (well, I am), but with Lois, a brilliant Stage Manager, we shot in a rehearsal room, so there were a lot of textures including brick walls and black duvetine which felt very theatrical. My friend I met at Imagineering, Matthew Glisson, is an amazing Mechanical Engineer. While we initially shot outside in greenery to compliment his hair, by far our favorite shots of were in places which felt industrial, and involved unique angles and materials. 


3. Trust your models:

This applies to not just what clothes they feel most confident in (with headshots most of it won’t be in frame anyways!), but how they have fun. Lois recommended we blast a trashy 90s pop playlist, and it kept things relaxed, playful, and you know, ultra-professional. Plus, we sang romantic duets. Proof:

4. Play to their strengths:

Lois has stunning eyes. The glasses and shirt are analogous colors to her eyes, and the complimentary color of the brick wall was a recipe for success.

I think I might need to start carrying a duck with me to every shoot now!


Bonus: This shot is my absolute favorite, though!